Day 2 of the SNAP Hunger Challenge!

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

By Chef Terri

Spinach and Chicken Salad with Hardboiled Egg, Onion, & Lime

Approximate breakdown of my lunch cost today:
$0.60 for the 2 oz of chicken I reserved from the breast I sautéed last night
$0.12 for the egg I hardboiled

$0.67 for the 3 oz or so of spinach
$0.10 for the sliced onions
$0.14 for the third of the lime juice and zest I used
Approximately $1.63 total meal cost
Approximately 154 calories in the meal
Approximately $.01 per calorie consumed
In an average 1 oz bag of potato chips, there are 160 calories. Those potato chips require no time to boil the eggs, no preparation of product, no saving chicken from the night before. The average 1 oz bag of potato chips costs $0.33 at Jewel, meaning it would cost even less than the $.01 per calorie that my salad cost me to consume. Now, of course the potato chips don’t provide much of any of the nutrients I’ve eaten here. Spinach is high in iron and vitamin C, I gained lots of tasty protein from the chicken and egg, and lots of flavor from my lime and my onion. In total, I was able to eat almost 4 cups of total food volume, which is far more than the heaping cup of chips would have taken up in my stomach. However…I’m still really, really hungry.
Last night was really rough for me, sleep wise, and I decided to have an extra bag of hot tea this morning. Since I usually only use one tea bag (and get two cups of tea worth out of each bag), I had a total of 4 cups of tea today on a very empty stomach. My snack of a banana, while super tasty, was less filling than my baby carrots were yesterday, and didn’t do anything to slow the absorption of caffeine in to my system. I think that by increasing my caffeine consumption while not increasing my food consumption (instead, decreasing it sharply from yesterday), I’ve also increased my sense of jitteriness and overall irritability. I am wide awake, but none too pleased about it.
Dinner was easy to prepare, and very flavorful, but not particularly filling. Two eggs scrambled with salsa, and a piece of toast with an ounce of shredded cheddar cheese.
I upped my overall consumption of vegetables for the day by using the salsa, but I’ve already exceeded my total recommended consumption of egg yolks for the week, boosting my cholesterol consumption significantly. We know that there is an overall connection between poverty and ill health, and poverty and obesity, which I’ve certainly begun to understand more personally in the last 2 days. I’ve lost three pounds in the last 48 hours, but I know that if I keep up this intensely calorie restricted method of eating, my body will attempt to store everything I eat as fat, increasing my likelihood to suffer from obesity related illness. While I’m struggling to eat healthily this week, I’m already hearing the sirens call of just eating the whole bag of tortilla chips for dinner. I could have purchased a significantly greater volume of food, things like potato chips and ramen and soda for the same amount of money as I spent on the fruits and vegetables and lean protein I bought this week.
Just thinking about the food I can’t eat today is making me grumpier, but simultaneously more grateful for the luxuries I do enjoy. I can’t imagine being this hungry and not having my laptop or a good book to distract me. If I had to be this hungry in between working two or more jobs (as lots of people on SNAP do) or while raising children (again, a large percentage of SNAP participants have children), I don’t think I could manage it.